The Indian government is not collecting any data on the crypto market and has no idea about the number of active cryptocurrency exchange platforms or users in the country, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed Rajya Sabha on July 27 in response to a question raised by Rajya Sabha MP and former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi. The finance minister added that the ministry has not received any information on whether some of these exchanges are involved in narcotic drug trafficking or money laundering.
"This information is not collected by the Government," Sitharaman said, in response to Modi's question about the active platforms in the country. The Indian government initially had a strong stance on cryptocurrencies but, it has softened over the last few months with the growing popularity of digital currencies in the country.
The finance minister also suggested that investors who bought cryptocurrencies from outside of India may not have to pay an equalisation levy on them. She was questioned by Modi on the same. The former Bihar deputy CM asked whether the centre intends to impose an equalisation levy on the investors who have bought cryptocurrency from abroad.
To which Sitharaman replied: "Equalisation levy is imposed on e-commerce operator, not on the investor."
While the government may not have data on crypto exchange platforms and number of active users, the crypto industry believes that around more than 1.5 crore investors have bought cryptocurrencies worth Rs 15,000 crore. Major coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum have grown in popularity in the country since the beginning of this year. So, it would be safe to assume that the number of crypto investors are also rising rapidly.
The Indian government was planning to impose a ban on cryptocurrencies earlier this year and was expected to table a Cryptocurrency Bill during the Budget session. It was delayed as a committee was constituted and further discussions were held with the industry players. The bill is unlikely to be tabled during the monsoon session of Parliament as well. That's because the government wants to take a considered decision on cryptocurrency.
Reports in the past have suggested that the government may not impose a blanket ban on cryptocurrencies but, is considering to put them under digital asset class. The government may seem flexible with cryptocurencies but still faces major challenges from different corners. One of them is from the Reserve Bank of India which is planning to launch its own digital rupee.
As of now, the crypto market is entirely unregulated in the country.
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